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The following remarks are based on a series of interviews with Donald in 2001. Birth dates and death dates were taken from the Blue Mound Cemetery, CD-37, available from the CemPhoto WorkShop, P.O. Box 1222, Chillicothe, MO 64601 or visit www.cemphoto.com .
Donald Barnes moved from Sulphur Springs, Arkansas to Blue Mound, Missouri in 1921. He left Blue Mound in 1936 to live and work in Glenview, Illinois. He later returned to Missouri to work as a pilot for TWA headquartered out of Kansas City.
I met Donald for the first time at his machine shop in Liberty, Missouri on Valentine’s Day 2001. He came right out and met me with a great big smile. He was 84 at the time, but very agile, alert, and friendly. He was really quite interested in talking about Blue Mound. He also told me about the death of his Wife of 63 years on January 23, 2000. She was a Bloss that he met at the Chillicothe High School.
“I was born in 1917 in Sulphur Springs, Arkansas and was about 4 years old when we moved to Blue Mound, Missouri in 1921. There was my Dad, Daniel (Daniel Parker Barnes: 1877 - ????), my Mother Mary (Mary Elizabeth Groszinger Barnes: 1881 - ????), and my Sisters Grace and Audrey and two Brothers Doraylld and Jerald (Jerald D. Barnes: 1920 - 1996). I remember Grandpa Barnes. He came across the ocean in a sail boat from Germany. I was very young when he died, but Mom used to tell me about him. I forgot how long it took them, but it was weeks and weeks to get across. He may be buried at Utica. Mom used to go over there.”
“Dad had a little feed store down in Sulphur Springs. I don’t know why he bought the farm in Blue Mound, but we all moved up. I know that I wasn’t very old, but I do remember the train ride. We came from Sulphur Springs to Chillicothe. We lived about 3/4 of a mile north of the Blue Mound cross roads on the west side of the road just south of the road going west toward the Blue Mound cemetery.”
“My Dad bought a 160 acre farm just North of Blue Mound near the entrance to the cemetery. We had 40 acres on the east side and 120 on the west. It was rocky, but we still made a living. We mostly raised crops and livestock. Dad always had 10 or 12 milk cows and some sheep and pigs. The farmers pretty much raised corn, oats and soybeans. I don’t think that we had much wheat, but we always raised oats for feed for the horses and chickens. We also raised cane. We would strip it, bundle it and put it on our wagon and haul it up to the corner to Del Sperry. He had a sorghum mill and would squeeze out the juice and boiled down into sorghum.”
“When we first moved in there was an offset in the road in front of our house. They straightened it out before we left Blue Mound. It use to go right in front of our old house there. Dad gave them the land to straighten it out. It made a good short cut. The offset actually went around an old pond there. We dug it with a slip and two horses. (You can still see where it was today although it is filled in with silt.) My Brother and I used to go out in a boat. We had a horse trough and pulled it out to the pond. It was a big deal you know! All it was was a long horse trough, about 9 feet long and kinda narrow too. And it would turn over pretty easy. The sides were made out of big old boards that were about 2 inches thick and 12 - 14 inches wide and the bottom was galvanized tin.”
“We had a Model T and then a Pontiac. There wasn’t too many cars around then. I do remember Alfred Barnes’ Chevrolet. The old Model T Fords had to turn around and back up Baxter Hill because the gas tank was under the front seat and it fed the carburetor by gravity and if the tank was low on gas there wouldn’t be enough flow to keep the engine going unless you were going up backward.”
“All we had for heat was wood stoves. I remember the Chilllicothe Foundry. They made castings. The also made cast iron bob sled runners, four of them, that you would hook onto your sled and it said Chillicothe Foundry on the runners. They were very heavy. They were for hauling logs. We had an old sled, Dad made it for hauling fodder and trees for wood.”
Blue Mound in the 20's and 30's. Donald drew a map showing the relative location of residents, school, store, churches, and other features at the time that he lived there. He also told me several things that he did as he grew up in the area.
For instance he was one of the crew that put the buggy up on top of the repair shop which set just off the Northeast corner of the Blue Mound crossroads. They took the buggy apart, carried it up to the roof, and then reassembled it. Of course they had to reverse the procedure to get it back down.
He started in the first grade at the Blue Mound School in 1922. (This is the same location and building that is still in use today.) He went to all the grades there. And, he remembers the big old stove in the Northeast corner and one of the teachers names - Mr. Dourghtery (sp.?). Everyone liked him. Seems like he didn’t get paid much, maybe $30 or $35 per month.
The “Central Office” (the old time rural telephone exchange) which was in Del and Mary Sperry’s house was on the Northwest corner of the Blue Mound crossroads.
“They had a little bit of every thing in the Blue Mound store back then. One of the things I remember is the cheese. Longhorn cheese. My Dad used to have (and I still have one) a great big cheese slicer. Cheese used to come in a wooden box about this big around and about that thick. And they would put it up on that big old cheese slicer and slice off a wedge and then weigh it. And they had kerosene or coal oil, and any food you could think of (mostly canned), and cereal and dry goods on one side and groceries on the other and in the back they had meat where you could buy rabbit or other stuff.”
Donald remembered several folks that lived in the area at that time.
Everett and Elmer Haynes. Elmer (L. Elmer Haynes: 1887 1961) and Everett (Everett Haynes: 31 Aug 1896 - 14 Oct 1978) jointly owned a steam engine and threshing machine and he did all the threshing in the area. The threshing machine man always got paid, but the neighbors just exchanged work as they went from one farm to another. Elmer only had one arm, the other one had been cut off. (Elmer’s Granddaughter, Charlotte Condron, confirmed that Elmer had his left arm cut off in a fodder chopper. Also John Dillard, my Brother, remembered how Elmer used to roll his own cigarettes by putting the bag of tobacco in the crook of the cut off arm and opening the string with his good arm, shaking out the right amount of tobacco into the paper which he held in his good hand, and rolling it up into a cigarette with just the one hand!)
“Add” Fleshman. “Add’s” property joined the school house property to the east. He also had a ginding mill just to the east of the house he lived in. The mill was not very big and was housed in a building built out of rough, unfinished lumber. He would grind feed for the neighbors using an International “one lung” gas powered motor for power. He would climb up on the spokes of the 6 foot fly wheel and then jump off when his wieght brought the wheel down. With a few sputters, the motor would take off and the grinding would begin. Dick Maberry showed me his thumb which had a hunk removed by this mill when he was a young boy. (The mill was gone when we moved to Blue Mound io 1945. Just a few of the timbers that made up the building remained.)
Harley McCracken. Harley (Harley R. McCracken: 12 Oct 1893 - 29 Mar 1994) was a real character. You know he lived to be 100 years old. He is buried in the Blue Mound Cemetery. He was going on a 101 when he died. Harley used to cut my hair for a dime. He would cut and pull. He really wasn’t a barber. That was 70 or 80 years ago. At that time, what ever a person could make a dime at they did. They lived in a little old shacky cabin just West of Blue Mound on the South side of the road.
Charley and Molly McCracken. Another McCracken was Charley (Charley C. McCracken: 1863-1940). He had a black smith shop North of Blue Mound. My Sister’s husband and I went down there one morning to get a plow share sharpened. And Molly McCracken (Tabitha J.? : 11 Feb 1898 - 15 Feb 1972) was making biscuits for breakfast and she wanted to know if I was hungry. And naturally, I was about 6 or 7 and already had had breakfast, but was hungry most of the time. But anyway, they were the best biscuits I ever had in my life. You know they were kinda browned and were really good. Molly smoked a corncob pipe. And she used snuff. The way the old ladies used to use snuff is they had a stick and they would cut a little piece of cloth and make a little bag out of it, put the snuff in the bag, tie a string around it and the stick, put the bag in their mouth and let the stick stick out. I remember seeing Molly many, many times with that stick sticking out of her mouth. And Molly lived to be in her 80's and at least and that didn’t kill her.
Hollis Sperry. One mystery that occurred near Blue Mound was finding the body of a man in a corn field. Hollis Sperry lived Northeast of Blue Mound and was the one that found him. He was in a corn field and had been there for some time. But they never did find out anything about him. Never knew who he was nor nothing. It was a big thing, especially for a kid like me who was 7 or 8 years old. It is something that I never forgot. Hollis Sperry was the oldest of the Sperry brothers. There was Hollis and Claude (Claudie E. Sperry: 1905-1923) and Ivan(?) and Paul and one girl Cecil(?) There was another mystery, Cecil disappeared. There wasn’t any trace of her. She was a pretty little girl. Somebody took off with her. And Del was part Indian and Claude was cutting corn one time and cut himself real bad on the leg with a corn knife. And Del went in there and grabbed a chicken and cut it in two and wrapped that on his leg, but Claude got blood poisoning and died. Claude would have been in his late teens. He was still at home.
Herschel McCracken. Herschel was one of Harley McCracken’s boys. I think that Herschel is dead now (not in Blue Mound Cemetery). It all got started with the Blue Mound Hill (not Baxter Hill) just North of Blue Mound crossroads. Just before you get to where Mrs. Hughes used to live on the East side of the road up on top of the hill. McCulloughs (Fred B. McCullough: 1900-1998 and Blanche M McCullough: 1907x-1992) used to live there, too. It was what we called the Blue Mound Hill and it was a pretty steep with rock ledges in it. After a rain it would wash out to where it would be a little incline straight up and down. We had a heck of time with it until we got Harley McCracken to do some dynamite work in there. It was actually called the McCullough Hill . And anyway after the dynamite was all shot off, Herschel and I got out there picking up wire and we picked up a cap (used to set off the dynamite) too. We took it down to where we lived, down at the farm and put it on a piece of iron and Herschel got a hammer and hit it and it blew one of his fingers off! That is how crazy we were. Herschel was one of Harley’s boys.
Reva Perry(Maberry). Reva was older than I and she was a very pretty girl. I was kinda of stuck on her. I think that I told her one time that I was going to marry her someday. We didn’t go to school together. I think that she went to school with Bacil (Bacil E. Perry: 24 Jun 1911 - 27 Apr 1985) her Brother. Maybe Raulie (Rolla J. Perry: August 1899-April 1996) was a senior at that time?
Harve Davis . Harve (Harvey Andrew Davis: 1877 - 1952 )and Linnie (Linnie Warner Davis: 1883 - 1959) were some other acquaintances. They were married Apr 8, 1902. They had two children: Everett and Lee. The reason that I remember Everett so well is that we used to hunt together. He was about 8 or 10 years older than I. And we used to hunt skunks and coons and whatever we could catch. There were no deer and no turkeys. We sold the hides and rabbits; we used to get 10 or 15 cents for a rabbit. And, this is terrible, I used to hunt a lot of rabbits and hang them on the North side of the smoke house and they would thaw and freeze and thaw and freeze. Of course I always sold them when they were frozen! Now, ain’t that terrible!
I did run some big trap lines. Dad went to a sale and bought 20 or 30 traps. And I had them set around all over the country. I’d run them early in the morning before school. And when I went by the cemetery, I would always take a wide birth since it was still dark! I wasn’t clever enough to catch a mink, but caught mostly possum and rabbits and civet cats and skunks. There were no muskrats in that area.
Mr. Doughtery sent me home from school once or twice because of skunk odor on me. I would go into the warm school room and as my clothing warmed up the odor would start. Next to our little garage we had an old stove. Just an old abandoned stove. No stove pipe or nothing. We would make a little fire out of corn cobs and sprinkle corn chops on top of it and the smoke from that was supposed to take the odor out, but it didn’t always work.
I remember that Harve had a Whippet. Do you know what a Whippet is? They were a type of early automobile; not much good and sure did make a lot of noise!
Bill (William) Davis (William Davis: 20 Oct 1863 - 27 Jan 1932), who was married to Lelia Davis (Lelia Davis: 13 Sep 1877 - 21 Apr 1961), and Harve Davis were Brothers.
Old bachelor. There was an old bachelor, I don’t remember his name, that lived over West of the Cemetery. Mom used to make bread and take it to him. He was just an old bachelor that lived over there by himself.
John Brown. John lived right straight West of Blue Mound. At one time the McCrackens lived just South of them. Williams lived there after John Brown. The reason that I remember Williams was because of Julie Williams. She was a pretty little girl. And Willis Haynes married Julie. She was older than I. She was a beautiful woman.
I used to build model airplanes. And I was short of wood; I couldn’t find any good wood. So I went to this abandoned house and took my saw and brought back some real good 2x4's. And my Dad just about killed me, but I was making some airplanes. It could have been that old house, but it was abandoned. For their evening meal, all the Brown’s had was milk and bread.
Mrs. Merritt or it might have been Merriott. (Probably Emily M. Marriott: 1868 - 19?? - Husband was Thomas James Marriott: 1869 - 1932) I’ll never forget her name because she scared the hell out of me! Mrs Merritt had gone to a pie supper at the Church of Christ just east of Blue Mound. She actually lived out South of Blue Mound a couple of miles. She had a little farm and just eked out an existence. What I did was let the air out of her tires. I forgot what type of car it was. I got two of them before she caught me in the act and confronted me. She didn’t like it at all! She was a real meanie about it. But, old Johnny Hoyt saved me. He told Mrs. Merritt that I really didn’t mean any harm and that I would go and get a tire pump and pump them right back up. And I did! Johnny was a fine guy. I remember Johnny well, he and Dad were good friends.
Lewis Mossbarger. Lewis (L.E. Mossbarger: 28 Sep 1868 - 05 Apr 1930) and his wife, Rettie (Rettie McAlear Mossbarger: 16 Sep 1872 - 18 May 1926), lived just South of the Mount Hope Church. Mr. Mossberger owned a Franklin car. It had an air cooled engine. I am pretty sure that he didn’t know how to drive it.
Lewis was found dead in their well. It was after his wife Rettie died. She was the head of the family. (Reva Maberry said that she had heard that the reason he drowned was because Rettie wasn’t there to tell him to get out!) No one ever knew what happened. They say he had grabbing hooks. He had a bucket down there and he had lost the rope.
Thomas family. There was a large family of Thomases. They lived in lived in a little old house just South of Blue Mound. They must have had 6 or 8 kids. The oldest one - reason that I remember the exact year - and where he got the money I don’t have any idea - but he had a 29 Model A Roadster. It was yellow with black fenders. And I can still see him going up and down that road with the dust just flying! I was envious and jealous!
“I left Blue Mound in 1936 (I would have been about 19 years old), and went to Glenview, IL. I worked for a landscape company there, made some money and bought an airplane. Paid $750 for it. A friend and I went together to buy it. It was a Taylor Craft. The wife was kinda unhappy, so to pacify here I bought her a fur coat. It cost me $100, but it was well worth it. I still have it in one of the old cars down there. It was a Russian fox, whatever that is. She really looked cute in it. From Glenview, I came back to Missouri to work for TWA as a pilot.”
If you would like to submit your recollections, please contact Joe G. Dillard at: 3535 West Arbor Way, Columbia, MO 65203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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